November 02, 2017
Whanau Pakari a fat-busting winner
Liggins Institute researchers have given the thumbs up to a Taranaki healthy lifestyle programme for kids and teens with weight issues.
Whanau Pakari is a collaboration between the Taranaki District Health Board and Sport Taranaki designed to encourage families to become self-assured and fully active, taking healthcare out of hospitals and into people’s homes and communities.
A study published in the international journal Obesity says Whanau Pakari has resulted in physical and emotional health gains across a group tracked for 12 months.
Lead author Dr Yvonne Anderson, a Liggins Institute researcher and Taranaki DHB paediatrician, says the best way to address weight issues in young people is to de-medicalise what is a very personal condition and design a new kind of service that removes the stigma and judgement around obesity.
The 200 children in the study received a home visit involving a comprehensive health assessment and personalised advice, with a high intensity group also invited to weekly group sessions at community venues on topics including cooking, sports and physical activity, lifestyle changes and self-esteem.
There were consistent improvements in cardiovascular fitness, important improvements in quality of life and modest reductions in body mass index.
Dr Anderson says overall the tamariki and rangatahi are emotionally healthier and happier, which is not always an outcome of these types of obesity interventions.
She says Whanau Pakari reached sections of society who are most at risk and yet most likely to fall through the cracks in healthcare, with almost three in 10 of the children in the study came from households in the most deprived neighbourhoods of Taranaki and Maori making up 47 percent of the participants.
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